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Social Aggression in Mean Girls and Clueless

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The younger generation don’t know how to behave because the representations in films contradict society’s values.

From an early age, we are sitting in front of a tv watching our favourite shows and movies on a Saturday morning with a bowl of cereal. As we grow up from toddlers through to teenagers, we start taking more notice of our favourite actors and the way they behave in tv shows and movies. While paying more attention to our much-loved characters, we try to implement their actions into the way we behave. Without knowing or realising, we are eliminating society’s opinions and values for our own that has been given to us on a screen.

The popular worldwide teenage films Clueless and Mean Girls present us an image on young women which is seen to oppose society’s values. Mean Girls and Clueless both follow the lives of high school students, in particular a group of popular and attractive girls. The films give us a toxic message by these girls taking advantage of power and in order to make themselves look good.

Mean Girls takes focus on three ‘plastic’ girls who gain popularity, status and power through being socially aggressive. The main antagonist (‘plastic’) in the movie is Regina George. She enforces the representation of girls being socially aggressive as well as being the main influence toward viewers. This can be seen when Regina constantly harms the self-esteem of others for her own benefits of gaining power, popularity and status. By Regina being socially aggressive, it empowers her, as the victims aren’t saying anything back making her in control. She is also able to gain popularity as others don’t want to be a victim of her verbal abuse, so people ‘befriend’ her so there feeling won’t get hurt by the vicious words coming out of Regina’s mouth. As she continues to damage the self- esteem of others, her status grows larger and larger as she is being known as, not the school bully, but as the girl who you want to be friends with. In saying that, the beautiful, popular Regina is being looked upon as a role model to teenage girls being the main character and all. As majority of high school girl’s envy having popularity, power and status they try to be like Regina, seeing she has ‘everything’. This causes for the younger generation to misbehave in the eyes of society.

Another example of social aggression presented in Mean girls is the gossip and rumours speeded throughout the school. Again, Regina was the main antagonist of all these horrible rumours and stories about other girls. The burn book was a book created by Regina and the Plastics to start rumours, stories, and gossip about all the girls and some guys. This causes for Regina and the plastics to gain an advantage over the girls who were believed to be there ‘competition’ by making them feel bad. Although those girls didn’t care about power, popularity and status, the plastics thought otherwise. By making those girls feel bad they believe they cannot be touched and are the best setting a wrong example for younger viewers.

Clueless is a movie that presents social aggression in a more subtle way than Mean Girls. The main character that represents this is Cher. She is depicted as blissfully unaware of how spoiled she is, yet also the films lovable protagonist. Cher is clearly socially aggressive when she cleverly manipulates two lonely teachers to date in order to raise her grades. With just a few suggestive comments, a love note with Shakespeare, and the encouragement to share coffee, Cher cements the love between the teachers. Although she is helping her teachers, she is more thinking about herself rather than the teachers. She needs good grades in order to make her Dad proud and by doing this she achieves good unearned grades. She abuses her power as a popular, attractive student in order to benefit herself with better grades. This toxic message puts the idea into the younger generations mind that abusing power for your own benefit is a good thing.

Over the years, some Men have looked at Women purely for sexual attraction. However, this has changed for the better as women have grown stronger and equality for women has been a strongly on the uprise. But, Clueless shows how teenage girls can use their appearance to attract and manipulate boys. This is seen where Cher dresses up in Calvin Klein mini-skirt where it is obvious that she is attracting the attention of boys. She is also the only one to not experience sexual interaction between Dionne and Tai. Cher feels vulnerable and believes it is her weakness and when she encourages Tai to pursue Josh, Tai lashes out by saying ‘you’re a virgin that can’t drive’. Tai has exploited Cher’s ‘weakness’ as she is hurt by Tai’s comments and is in need of sexual interaction. This persuades the younger generation that they need sexual attention by dressing inappropriately, according to society, at such a young age to be popular.

Being an adolescent teenager myself, popularity and status are very much wanted in high school. I will admit that I do put some importance about having popularity and status but not the same importance that are seen in teenage movies. I’m not socially aggressive or manipulative to get it and I’m not to fussed weather or not I have it, neither is majority of teenagers I know. Like the movies, there are some people who will do anything and everything to be popular or have power. And I believe films like Clueless and Mean Girls, put the picture into the younger generations head that you need to pull out all costs in order to have popularity, power and status. 

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Social Aggression In Mean Girls And Clueless. (2022, May 24). GradesFixer. Retrieved June 29, 2022, from
“Social Aggression In Mean Girls And Clueless.” GradesFixer, 24 May 2022,
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